What does the word “leader” mean to you?
For me, leaders are visionary, big-picture thinkers with the passion and charisma to inspire others to bring their vision to life. I believe that leaders aren’t born, they’re made – and that anyone can become a leader if they put in the time to cultivate the right skills and mindset.
I certainly never considered myself to be a leader when I was younger. Like many other successful leaders, I didn’t become a leader overnight. As a child, I struggled with self-esteem issues that took me years to overcome.
It wasn’t until I started working with my mentor W. Clement Stone that I began to believe in my self-worth and understand that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. That set me on the path to leadership and inspired me to dedicate my life to helping others improve their self-esteem and realize their full potential.
If you feel a calling to become a leader in the world, one of the most important steps in your journey will be to decide what kind of leader you want to be.
Today I’d like to share my tips on how to discover your personal leadership style and develop the leadership traits you need to inspire others.
5 Types of Leadership Styles
Most leaders fall into one of 5 leadership styles. Whether you’re a life coach or trainer, working in corporate management, building your own business, or fighting for social change – if you want to know how to be a good leader, it’s important to recognize these leadership styles and understand their strengths and weaknesses so you can determine yours.
Here are 5 leadership styles you should know about:
1. Authoritarian Leadership
An authoritarian leader is someone with an autocratic leadership style – they take control over all decisions and make those decisions quickly and confidently without much input from others.
While their “autocratic leadership” style makes them effective in a crisis, authoritarian leaders can quash their team’s confidence and creativity and make it hard for them to collaborate and innovate.
That’s why autocratic leaders must find a balance between maintaining control and taking decisive action — as well as encouraging more input from others and trusting their team’s insight.
2. Participative Leadership
A participative leader, also known as a “democratic leader,” values others’ opinions and input. In participative leadership, environmental decisions are made as a team which encourages employees to feel valued and appreciated.
However, this kind of collaborative approach can slow decision-making and increase the potential for communication issues and bad decisions.
For maximum effectiveness, a participative leader must know when and how to end the discussion and assume control as the final decision-maker.
3. Delegative Leadership
Delegative leaders are also known as “laissez-faire leaders” and fall into two camps.
Those who intentionally adopt a delegative approach to give their employees creative autonomy and foster a positive work environment where innovation and creativity thrive. And those who are unintentionally laissez-faire because they are reluctant to assert control and take responsibility.
When you’re a delegative leader, it’s important to know when to step in and provide enough direction so that everyone is united in pursuing a shared vision.
4. Transactional Leadership
Transactional leaders, also known as “managerial leaders,” inspire others into action by offering rewards for when goals are met and potential penalties for when there’s failure.
A transactional leader can be good at implementing order and systems and letting people know what’s expected of them. But they can sometimes lack empathy and be so stuck on their systems that they don’t accommodate the individual needs of their team members.
In order to be more effective, transactional leaders must work hard to ensure that the “give and take” culture they create is flexible enough to honor their team’s unique situations and contributions while making their members feel valued rather than replaceable.
5. Transformational Leadership
Transformational leaders are those exceptional people who are able to inspire and energize their team to implement their vision and use praise, encouragement, and empathy to inspire others to show up as their best selves and strive for the highest possible outcome.
Also known as “visionary leaders,” they attract and cultivate empowered, loyal, and highly motivated employees. But they must ensure that the vision they are using to inspire others is realistic and achievable.
They must also be sincere when encouraging others and be able to deliver ruthlessly truthful feedback that will help people overcome their blind spots and improve their performance without dimming their motivation.
Tips to Develop Your Own Leadership Traits
Success is not a solo venture. Leaders need to get buy-in from others to achieve their goals and make their vision a reality. That’s why, if you want to know how to be a good leader, developing your own leadership traits is essential to your success.
This means not only creating a clear vision for what you want to achieve but becoming someone who is capable of creating a culture of success and inspiring others to reach your goals.
Here are my tried and true methods for developing effective leadership traits:
Understand What Kind of Leader You Want to Be
Do you want to be authoritarian, participative, delegative, transactional, or transformational?
You get to choose. Be sure to consider the type of people you want to lead and the leadership style that will inspire them to listen to you and help you bring your vision to life.
Develop and Understand Your Leadership Qualities
What kind of qualities do you currently possess that make you a good leader? And what skills and expertise do you still need to develop to be the leader you want to be?
By understanding your strengths and weaknesses and creating a personal development plan that outlines the steps you will take to cultivate the leadership traits you want to acquire, you will make your success journey so much easier.
Hold Yourself Accountable to Your Goals
If you hope to inspire others, first you must prove that you are capable of inspiring yourself!
Be sure to set realistic goals for yourself and commit to achieving them by a certain date. Then make those commitments your top priority until those goals are achieved.
This is how you acquire the transformational leadership traits you need to make a powerful impact on others – and prove to others (and yourself) that you are a leader worth following.
Listen for Possibilities and Be Open to Change.
Great leaders are the first to admit that they don’t know everything, and they are willing to listen to new ideas and update their goals, plan, and vision as new information and insight comes available.
They also have the confidence and conviction to hold fast to their vision and not yield to every new idea simply because it’s new.
Inspire Your Team with a Clear Vision.
People follow leaders because they believe in what the leader is trying to accomplish. The best way to instill this belief in others is to have a clear and powerful vision and be able to simply convey it in a way that gets them excited to see it become a reality.
Always Take Action
Leaders understand the value of taking action and are the first to lead the charge in any new project or campaign.
Instead of hiding in their office and “leading from behind,” great leaders teach by example and inspire their team to be proactive and take intelligent risks that can lead to a huge pay-off.
Coach Others to Be a Leader
Great leaders know that the best way to inspire others to be their best selves is to awaken the leader within.
By encouraging the people they work with to take ownership of their actions and strive to constantly improve their performance, they make it possible for them to accomplish even greater things.
This will then help inspire others to do the same and create a powerful ripple effect that will spread throughout your organization – and your world.
Determine Your Leadership Style
If you work with other people in any capacity, I encourage you to make it a priority to focus on cultivating your leadership skills.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager, business owner, consultant, coach, trainer, teacher, or speaker — if you want people to listen to you and follow your instructions or advice, developing key leadership traits will vastly accelerate your progress to your goals.
Becoming an effective leader will help you:
- Make a bigger positive impact on the people you work with
- Inspire others to take action and improve their results
- Encourage others to believe in themselves and develop their own potential
- Grow a successful business and enjoy a lucrative career transforming people’s lives
Want to Learn More About Your Leadership Style?
Take my 60-second free quiz — and remember: the world needs transformational leaders, now more than ever!